3. International conference papers

Articles published in international conference volumes/Articole/studii publicate în volumele unor manifestări ştiinţifice internaţionale recunoscute din ţară şi din străinătate

Bălţătescu, S. (2009), National Identity and Happiness: A Quantitative Study with Romanian Data, în: Boari V. & G. S. (coord.), Weighting the Difference: Romanian Identity in the Wider European Context, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 184-209, http://www.c-s-p.org/Flyers/Weighting-Differences--Romanian-Identity-in-the-Wider-European-Context1-4438-1001-0.htm.

This chapter tries to elucidate the relationship between national identity and happiness in post-communist Romania, in the context of two main goals of European social policy: to promote people’s well-being and to maintain the cohesion at Union’s level. It develops a model of the relationship between subjective well-being (the scientific operationalization of happiness), evaluations of personal and national well-being, and national identity indicators. Then, using data from World Values Survey Romania 2005, it tests the proposed associations, while controlling for socio-demographical variables. The respondents who display the lowest national pride and identification with the country were the members of ethnic minorities, but also the young, the more educated and those living in the urban areas, a finding that give support to both ethnic nationalism (Smith) and cosmopolitanism (Inglehart and Norris) theories. All personal and national well-being variables influence the pride of being Romanian when controlling for socio-demographical variables and, in turn, all these categories of variables are positively associated with subjective well-being. The results support the view that subjective well-being is influenced by one’s position in the society but also by one’s feelings and attitudes towards his or her nation. At the policy level, it can be concluded that increasing people’s well-being while making democracy and market economy work will enhance social cohesion and also feelings of belongingness to European nations. The clarification of relationship between well-being and social cohesion would, however, benefit from further in-depth research, focused on the structure of national identity.

Bălţătescu, S., & Băltăţescu, G. (2009). Using online database providers to mediate the student-teacher and teacher-teacher interaction. some applications for higher education. în: I. Roceanu (Ed.), ELSE (eLEARNING AND SOFTWARE FOR EDUCATION) Bucharest: Carol I National Defence University, pp. 243-248, http://adlunap.ro/else2009/presentations/2.4%20baltatescu%20USING%20ONLINE%20DATABASE.ppt

The online, small and highly customizable "cloud computing" applications can be used very efficiently for educational purposes. Applications used in frameworks such as Zoho Creator and Google Apps approximate well these requirements. In this paper we present the use of Zoho Creator programming environment for the development of applications that mediate the student-teacher and teacher-teacher interaction. The first example is Student Paper and Marks Organizer, an online application for the uploading of the term papers by students, which also permits grade assignation by the professor and the assistant. The second one, called Conference Organizer, is an online registration application for scientific conferences, recently used for the "Education and social change" conference organized by the University of Oradea. All applications produced within this framework are user-friendly and highly customizable.

Bălţătescu, S. (2007), Life Satisfaction of the new EU Members: Recent Trends and Future Prospects, în: T. Muravska (coord.), European Union Enlargement of 2004 and Beyond: Responding to the Political, Legal and Socio-Economic Challenges, Riga.

Bălţătescu, S., & Cummins, R. A. (2007). An exploration of the domain satisfactions of Romanian school adolescents using the Personal Wellbeing Index. în: J. M. Sirgy (Ed.), 8th ISQOLS Conference “From QOL Concepts to QOL Performance Measures” San Diego, U.S.A.: International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS)

The Personal Wellbeing Index (Robert Cummins & the International Wellbeing Group, 2006) was found to be appropriate for the evaluation of the adolescent subjective well-being. This scale consist of 8 items formulated as general as possible in order to include most of the life situations. For example, “satisfaction with what you are achieving in life” would include, among others, the satisfaction with leisure activities and work for adults and with school for the adolescents. However, there are few data on how the evaluation of these specific domains correlate with the general items used in PWI. This paper tries to fill the gap using a large adolescent sample from Romania. Two global and 18 domain satisfactions of 3509 school adolescents (from 8th to 12th classes, 97% of them between 14 and 18 years old) were investigated. The adolescents show high levels of subjective well-being (average PWI = 80.3, satisfaction with life as a whole = 77.2), but the levels decrease with age, a finding that match with the previous studies in Romania showing that the adults have rather low levels of subjective well-being. The satisfaction with the achievements is equally predicted by the satisfaction with leisure and with school achievements (β=0.29, overall fit r2=0.200). The satisfaction with the personal relationships is best predicted by the satisfaction with the relationship with friends (β=.28), school colleagues (β=.13), professors (β=.11), father (β=.06) and with mother (β=.05). When all the domain satisfactions are put together in a principal component analysis, PWI items load in a single factor showing the statistical robustness of the Personal Wellbeing Index. Finally the opportunity of the inclusion of the “satisfaction with sentimental life”, a good predictor for the student subjective well-being, is discussed. 

Bălţătescu, S. (2005), Subjective well-being of immigrants in Europe. A comparative study, în: L. Pop & C. Matiuţă (coord.), European Identity and Free Movement of Persons in Europe, University of Oradea Publishing House, Oradea, pp. 128-143.

Studies available in Europe report a lower immigrant’s quality of life, caused by the low place in social structure but also by discriminations in the adopting countries. Until now, this could not be tested in a comparative perspective given the scarcity of the data. This study tries to fill this gap using the first round of European Social Survey (2002/2003), a very robust research that sets new standards in this field. It includes a “citizenship and immigration” module that allows the study of subjective perceptions of immigrants and attitudes of the public towards this group. Moreover, the dimensions of the samples are large enough to permit comparisons between resident foreigners and natives. The results show that in almost all countries immigrants report lower levels of subjective well-being and higher levels of perceived discrimination than the rest of the population. Somehow paradoxically, immigrants report higher satisfaction with social and political conditions in the host countries. This proves that social comparison is an important dimension of this subjective evaluation.

Bălţătescu, S., & Cummins, R. A. (2004). Subjective wellbeing in a post-communist country. Romania’s International Wellbeing Index. în: R. J. Estes (Ed.), Sixth ISQOLS Conference “Advancing Quality of Life in a Turbulent World”.  Final Conference Materials, CD-ROM Philadelphia, U.S.

Post-communist country facing rapid transformations in the process of joining EU, Romania has multiple social and economic problems but also a long tradition in measuring well-being. This makes it a good place for evaluating proprieties of International Wellbeing Index (IWI) – instrument developed and implemented by a team lead by Robert A. Cummins, School of Psychology at Deakin University. A survey on a representative sample at county level was conducted. Results were checked against other global and domain satisfaction measures in the same population. IWI shows satisfactory psychometric proprieties, but different patterns of relationship with socio-demographical variables emerge, compared with developed countries like Australia. Mainly, income and material well-being is found to be a more important predictor of global subjective well-being. The findings are discussed in the context of recent theories about relationship between objective and subjective quality of life.

Cummins, R. A., Arita, B., Bălţătescu, S., DZUKA, J., CASAS, F., LAU, A., GUERRERO, L. L., O'NEILL, G., TILIOUINE, H., TONON, G., VERRI, A., & VITTERSO, J. (2004). The International wellbeing Index: A psychometric progress report. în: R. J. Estes (Ed.), Sixth ISQOLS Conference “Advancing Quality of Life in a Turbulent World”.  Final Conference Materials, CD-ROM Philadelphia, U.S.

Bălţătescu, S. (2002). Sunt românii atât de nefericiţi precum spun? Satisfacţia vieţii în primii ani de tranziţie românească. în: I. Ţepelea & C. Antal (Eds.), The 27th Annual Congress of the American Romanian Academy of Arts and Sciences Universitatea din Oradea: Polytechnic International Press, pp. 411-414.

Other international conference papers/Lucrări prezentate la diferite seminarii/expoziţii

Bălţătescu, S. (2009). ”Ridzi go home!” A case study in the new Romanian civic and political activism through Internet Making democracy work in the digital age, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Ridzi Go home

The civic and political activism through Internet seems to sustain optimism concerning people’s capacity of mobilization throughout a Europe confronted with a decline of political participation. In Eastern European countries, however, many factors are considered rather inhibitory for such a revival: the deficit in ICT availability and skills, the relative lack of tradition in protest movements and the low social capital and interpersonal trust. This paper presents a case study in a very recent civic and political protest movement in Romania: Ridzi’s case. Soon after organizing the National Youth Day celebrations in May 2009, under the slogan 'Two Times Younger', the Minister of Youth and Sports Monica Icob Ridzi was accused in the press of spending in a very dubious way more than 700.000 Euros. Her initial reaction: "Do not ask me if it was expensive. I say could make it even more expensive!" considered outrageous by most of the commentators, as well as her defiant further public positions ignited a strong protest movement within the virtual networks. Dozens of thousand readers commented on journal web pages and blogs on this subject, thousands of them signing several petitions asking for her resignation. Around hundred of personal blogs reproduced slogans such as “Go Ridzi”, posted banners like “Magpie mouth shut!” and circulated a video pamphlet called “The Ridzi-Ridzi Song”. Although was strongly defended by the ruling party, after more than a month of strong contestations and a parliamentary inquiry, the Minister finally resigned. This paper aims at explaining how such an intense mobilization, rather unique in last years’ Romania, was possible. For this it analyzes at three levels: historical (the socio-political context and development of new media), semiotic (symbols and text analyzes) and ethnographic (connectedness of the ad-hoc activists). Finally it draws some conclusions on the transformations of political engagement and possibility of development of participation in the civic and political process through such non-conventional mechanisms.

Hatos, A., & Bălţătescu, S. (2009). Migration for labor of parents, well-being and school performance of high school students, Post-Communism and the New European Identity Oradea, 5-7 November.

Bălţătescu, S. (2009). A success story? Happiness in the new post-communist EU member states, IX ISQOLS Conference: „Quality of Life Studies: Measures and Goals of the Progress of Societies” Florence, Italy.

Ten of the post-communist countries managed to integrate into EU. Which are the subjective outcomes of socio-economic transformations in these countries? Did they manage to increase their citizens’  happiness in this process? To give an answer to these questions I used data from Candidate Countries Eurobarometer (2001-2004), Standard Eurobarometers (2005-2007), World Bank Development Indicators and World Database of Happiness (1990-2007), comparing developments in average national happiness with economic (GDP, optimism concerning the level of living) and political (satisfaction with democracy) trends on the same time span. In all the studied societies, trends in happiness were U-shaped after nineties, with a minimum around 1996-1997, when presumably transition crisis affected most of their citizens. Only after average 15 years these countries came back to the initial levels. The national levels of life satisfaction for all EU countries were correlated with country wealth, but the correlation is higher for post-communist countries. However the ranking of the countries by life satisfaction, satisfaction with democracy and economic optimism does not entirely match the ranking by GDP, and increases in material wealth of nations were not followed by similar increases in life satisfaction. I discuss four alternative explanations: the effects are delayed, diminishing, negative, or simply the overall influence of country wealth on people’s lives is overestimated.

Casas, F., Bălţătescu, S., Bertran, I., González, M., & Hatos, A. (2009). Similarities and differences in the PWI of Romanian and Spanish adolescents aged 13-16 years-old, IX ISQOLS Conference: „Quality of Life Studies: Measures and Goals of the Progress of Societies” Florence, Italy.

Results from two samples of adolescents aged 13-16 from Romania and Spain are presented (N = 940 + 1,952 = 2,892). The 7 items version of the Personal Well-Being Index has been used, together with an item on overall life satisfaction and a set of items on more specific life domains, including 5 school-related items. The item on satisfaction with spirituality and religion has been divided into two separated items. PWI shows a good adaptation to the two languages: In both countries a PCA shows that the 7 items load in one component. Its correlation with the single item on overall life satisfaction is high and significant as expected (.613 for Romania and .598 for Spain). The mean of the Spanish sample is 80.14, slightly higher than the expected normative range expected for western countries and according to previous Spanish results. However, the mean of the Romanian sample is much higher, 84.42. In the Spanish sample girls score slightly below boys, but in both countries they display higher satisfaction with the school items. For both samples, PWI and most of the satisfaction items decrease with age. However, among Spanish boys it slightly increases at 16. Among Spanish adolescents PWI shows positive significant but rather low correlation with satisfaction with religion (.202), and moderate with satisfaction with spirituality (.328). By contrast, among Romanian adolescents PWI shows a rather high correlation with satisfaction with spirituality (.606) and moderate with satisfaction with religion (.463), while satisfaction with religion correlates rather high with the overall life satisfaction (.555). Tentative explanations to similarities and differences between the two countries are discussed.

Bălţătescu, S. (2009). Differential effects of interpersonal and political trust on happiness and life satisfaction, CINEFOGO Workshop: “The Social Differentiation of Trust and Social Capital” Aalborg, Denmark.

Most social scientists converge to the view that trust has important effects on individual and social well-being. There are, however two categories of objects of trust: persons (interpersonal trust) and institutions (governmental institutions, political parties and so on). Moreover, any of these forms of trust presume both affective and cognitive mechanisms. This paper starts with the observation that subjective well-being also comprises two dimensions: one cognitive (life satisfaction), and another affective (positive affect and happiness), and it explores the possibility that the different forms and dimensions of trust may have different influences on these dimensions. Using data from the round of European Social Survey (2005/2007), it was found that both trust constructs are correlated with subjective well-being, at individual as well as national (aggregated) level. There are differences between Western and Southern European societies, on one hand, and Eastern European countries on the other hand, concerning these relationships. When controlling for gender, age and educational level, interpersonal trust was found to be a more powerful predictor of subjective well-being than political trust in West, while in the East we found the opposite. A tentative explanation is based on the different types of social capital and the increased welfare dependency in East compared with West. Meanwhile, the cognitive measure of subjective well-being (life satisfaction) correlates better with both constructs of trust. Implications on the affective and cognitive dimensions of trust are also discussed within the paper. 

Bălţătescu, S. (2008). Migration of a parent, well-being and social competence of adolescents. A study with Romanian high school students, International workshop: The Effects of International Labor Migration on Political Learning. Cluj-Napoca. pdf

Bălţătescu, S. (2008). Involvement and trust in voluntary associations, social trust, social capital and happiness in Eastern European countries: a longitudinal comparative study, Squaring the Circle: Civil Society and Social Capital in Central and Eastern Europe. CINEFOGO Workshop Kaunas, Lithuania, http://cinefogo.cuni.cz/getfile.php?&id_file=705.

As worries about the decline of participation and community life grow in Western Europe, scholars acknowledge that changes in the participation of the Eastern European citizens are not increasing as expected, or at least not at a pace that would trigger a significant change in social capital. Many scholars show a disappointment in this regards, as they proved the many benefits that social capital would brings for the postcommunist countries. This paper tries a comparative longitudinal approach to this problem. It uses four waves of World Values/European Values Survey (1981-2004) to measure changes in involvement in voluntary associations in 16 Eastern European countries. Similar to what Decker & van den Broek (1994) proved for a dozen Western nations, the results concerning participation are mixed: for some domains and countries they show a growth, but in other cases a stagnation and even lowering. At both individual and country level, involvement is associated with high social trust and trust in voluntary sector. An interesting result is that involvement in voluntary association is also linked with happiness of the individuals in studied countries, although the causal link is not clear: happier people are more willing to involve or simply participation causes happiness to grow? Finally, the limitation of the approach is discussed, and conclusions on the new developments in social capital in Eastern Europe are drawn.

Bălţătescu, S. (2008). Social exclusion and academic achievement: the role of peer-group rejection and educational inclusive policies, International Conference on Education, Economy and Society, Paris 

Poverty and the lack of economical, political and community integration associated with social exclusion have persistent negative effects on academic achievement of children and adolescents. These groups are exposed to another form of exclusion: the rejection, marginalization and victimization by peers. Both kinds of exclusion seem related (as for immigrant children). The relationship was, however, rarely studied, and the influence of inclusive policies (participatory practices, children involvement in extra-curricular activities) is not well known. The present paper approaches these issues by answering such questions as: what is the link between general social exclusion (low income and social status of the parents) and the children exclusion from peer-groups? How peer exclusion, in turn, influences their academic achievement? And how the school inclusive practices and policies intervene here? It uses Romanian panel data with 3.500 Romanian school children aged 14-18, incorporating various measures of socio-economic status, peer rejection and victimization, self-esteem, social and academic self-efficacy, and school climate. A moderate but significant association was found between the parental socioeconomic status and children status in their groups. Both constructs negatively correlate with self-esteem, academic self-efficacy and achievement. In a multi-level approach, the school inclusive climate mediates the effect of social exclusion on academic achievement.

Bălţătescu, S. (2008). National identity, cosmopolitanism and happiness: a quantitative study with Romanian data, Colocviul internaţional "Identitate româneasca în context european" Cluj-Napoca

This presentation tries to elucidate the relationship between national identity and happiness in post-communist Romania, in the context of two main goals of European social policy: to promote people’s well-being and to maintain the cohesion at Union’s level. It develops a model of the relationship between subjective well-being (the scientific operationalization of happiness), evaluations of personal and national well-being, and national identity indicators. Then, using data from World Values Survey Romania 2005, it tests the proposed associations, while controlling for socio-demographical variables. The respondents who display the lowest national pride and identification with the country were the members of ethnic minorities, but also the young, the more educated and those living in the urban areas, a finding that give support to both ethnic nationalism (Smith) and cosmopolitanism (Inglehart and Norris) theories. All personal and national well-being variables influence the pride of being Romanian when controlling for socio-demographical variables and, in turn, all these categories of variables are positively associated with subjective well-being. The results support the view that subjective well-being is influenced by one’s position in the society but also by one’s feelings and attitudes towards his or her nation. At the policy level, it can be concluded that increasing people’s well-being while making democracy and market economy work will enhance social cohesion and also feelings of belongingness to European nations. The clarification of relationship between well-being and social cohesion would, however, benefit from further in-depth research, focused on the structure of national identity.

Băltăţescu, S. (2007). Social exclusion, educational policies and school children’s happiness, International Conference: Policies for Happiness Certosa di Pontignano, Siena.

Recent studies show that low income diminishes happiness not only directly, but also through social exclusion, a process associated with poverty but also consisting in a lack of economical, political and community integration. Indeed, a lower socio-economic status is associated with low self-esteem and subjective well-being for both adults and children. In addition, school children are subjected to another form of social exclusion: the victimization, marginalization and rejection by their peer groups. These were also found to decrease the school children self-esteem, social relations and academic confidence, which are known to be important sources for the happiness of the adolescents. As studies on immigrant children would indicate, the two kinds of exclusion may not be entirely unrelated. We suppose that there is a link between the social status ascribed by the parents and the students’ status among their colleagues. Here the educational issues also interfere: the school climate in the class (low school dissatisfaction and disengagement) and the policies towards inclusion (participatory practices and support for children involvement in extra-curricular activities) are expected to influence the levels of peer social exclusion and minimize the status exclusion’s effects on adolescent well-being. This paper tries to elucidate some of the aspects of the relationship between social exclusion and happiness, by answering to the following questions: how strong is the association between the parental socio-economic status and the subjective well-being of the school children? In which way the self-esteem, self-confidence and other psychological variables mediate this relationship? What is the link between the general social exclusion (associated with low income and social status) and the exclusion from peer-groups (victimization and rejection)? How the peer exclusion, in turn, influences their self-esteem and happiness? And how the school inclusive practices and policies intervene here? For these purposes I used the data recently issued by the first wave of a panel research on a sample of 5.200 Romanian school children from 8th to 12th degree. The survey, specially designed for the research of social exclusion in schools, incorporate various measures of student socio-economic status, peer rejection and victimization (verbal, relational, physical), self esteem, social and academic self-efficacy, parental support and school disengagement. Subjective well-being was measured by life satisfaction, happiness and Personal Wellbeing Index, and indicators of satisfaction with standard of living, school, family and friends were also included together with measures of the school climate and students’ involvement in extra-curricular activities. The socio-economic status of the children is found to be moderately associated with their exclusion by the peers. At the individual level, both constructs negatively correlate with self-esteem, academic competence and subjective well-being. The social and parental support was found to mediate the relationship. In a multi-level approach, the inclusive climate in the schools was entered and found to mediate the effect of social exclusion on adolescent happiness. Finally, the implications on the policies devoted to social inclusion through school are discussed. I will argue that the inclusive school policies have short- and medium-term effects on the school children’ s subjective well-being. On the short-term, they may reduce the extent to which the children from disadvantaged groups were excluded from their peer-groups by actively engaging them in curricular and extracurricular activities. On medium-term, they would build self-esteem and social self-efficiency in these children by stimulating their school participation, thus contributing to their social integration. If objectives of this kind would be pursued, the social inclusion policies would become policies for happiness as well. 

Bălţătescu, S. (2006). Transition is over, wait to see the benefits: a comparative evaluation of the effects of post-communist transition on life satisfaction, ‘The End of Transitions? Central and Eastern European Countries in Comparative Perspective’, Central European University Budapest.

Life satisfaction, an overall evaluation of one’s life, is increasingly used as an indicator to guide social policy and to evaluate social change. This measure gives a global assessment of the societal changes effects of transition on average people, filtered through their attitudes and experience. The present paper focuses on effects of transition in eleven post-communist countries that already joined or are expected to join soon EU (including East Germany), using a comparative approach. The purpose is manifold: to compare life satisfaction levels at the beginning (1990-1991), in the middle (1996-1997) and towards the end of the transition process (2004-2005), to evaluate recent trends. Main data sources used were World Database of Happiness, Candidate Countries Eurobarometer (2001-2004), and standard Eurobarometers. Contrary to the theory of effects of “transition with different speeds”, patterns of country differences were generally maintained through all this period. The common trend is V-shaped, with a minimum in 1996-1997, supposedly coinciding with or closed to the time when transition crisis hurt most. Only recently national averages seem to return to the initial levels. Close-to-date evolutions in life satisfaction are very slow, almost stagnant, showing that effects of successful transition on average people’s lives are still waited.

Bălţătescu, S., & Cummins, R. A. (2006). Using the Personal Wellbeing Index to explore subjective wellbeing of high-school and college students in Romania, 7th ISQOLS Conference: “Prospects for Quality of Life in the New Millennium” Grahamstown, South Africa

Global and domain satisfaction of 1155 high-school (age 14-19) and 851 college students (age 18-30) in Romania’s county Bihor were investigated using Personal Well-being Index (Cummins et. al, 1999?), and measures of satisfaction with friends and with family. Contrary to what we would expect conform to the general view that adolescence and youth is an age of deep and acute dissatisfaction, respondents reported higher positive levels of subjective well-being (with PWI and life as a whole around 75 of 100). These levels are also superior to those measured earlier by the same authors for general population in Romania, the suggested explanation being that parental economic and affective support have a buffering effect against the difficulties of socioeconomic transition. Structure and socio-demographic correlates and of Personal Wellbeing Index were also assessed. 14-16 year old students report higher levels of well-being than other age groups. Significant positive differences were found in favor of men. Subjective well-being is also positively correlated with socio-economic status of the young. The Index shows satisfactory psychometric proprieties, although the structure of domain satisfactions is different compared with countries like Australia, satisfaction with standard of living being the highest predictor for global subjective well-being.

Bălţătescu, S. (2006). Unjust treatment by businesses and authorities, social trust and subjective well-being. A European comparative study, International Social Justice Conference: “Social Justice in a World of Change: Interdisciplinary Approaches" Berlin: 2-5 august.

Scholars agree that justice feelings are part of the individual's quality of life. Perceived injustice was found to diminish happiness in microjustice contexts, while at macro-level income inequalities are also correlated with lower subjective well-being. On the other hand, in line with authorities, businesses contribute, by bad market practices and unfair behavior towards consumers, to an increasing feeling of injustice, that is associated with the public erosion of confidence in the institutions of society, either public or private.  The relationship between perceived injustice, social trust and happiness is even more puzzling in post-communist societies, where corruption and unfair market practices are more frequent, but that are also characterized by low levels of trust and subjective well-being. The present paper tries to analyze these relationships in comparative perspective. It benefits from the availability of the second round of European Social Survey (2004/2005), that includes a module called "Economic Morality in Europe" focusing on experiences and attitudes linked with people's unfair treatment by businesses and authorities. Additionally, reliable measures of interpersonal and social trust, social capital, happiness and life satisfaction are provided in this survey for 22 countries. European citizens show moderate levels of "consumer victimization" (were overcharged for undelivered services and bogus repairs, were sold food packed to conceal worse bits, second-hand things that proved faulty, etc.) and had also some experiences with public officials asking them favors/bribe for their services. Nevertheless, a significant part of them worries to be treated dishonestly by businesses and authorities. All these perceptions of social justice are negatively correlated at both individual and national (aggregate) levels with life satisfaction and public confidence. Eastern European nationals have consistently lower perceptions on social justice and lower satisfaction and social trust levels. Empirical correlations are significant even when controlling for interpersonal trust, suggesting that justice feelings are salient for people's overall evaluation of their lives.

Bălţătescu, S. (2006). Central and Eastern European Migrants’ Subjective Quality of Life. A Comparative Study, Labor Migration – a Solution or an Obstacle for Development? Public Policy Centre, Cluj-Napoca

The conclusions of the literature about the consequences of labor migration on the sending countries are rather ambiguous. Some share the view that the migration would increase the quality of life of families or communities involved, and will be good for the support for democracy and market economy in these countries, while others share the view that the brain drain and fiscal losses would have long term effects on the sending countries’ development. This paper takes another approach, relying on subjective measures of quality of life of the migrant persons. Using data from the first two rounds of the European Social Survey (2002/2003, 2004/2005), the Eastern European immigrants’ satisfaction with their lives, work, family, and also with the social and political conditions will be compared with those from the sending and destination countries. Results show that immigrant report lower life satisfaction and happiness, but higher satisfaction with societal conditions than the natives in the destination countries. On the other hand, they show higher subjective quality of life than the average people in their sending countries. This is an argument for the complexity of the effects of migration on the social development of Central and Eastern European countries. 

Bălţătescu, S. (2005). Confidence in Government and Happiness in EU and US, Comunicare la International Joint Workshop: Europe and North America - Societies in Contrast. Hanse Institute for Advanced Study Delmenhorst, Germany.

It is known that, for the last 35 years, US (and on a lesser extent, European Union) faces an abrupt decline in confidence in government. Among sources identified were cited: long-term secular changes in attitudes toward authority (Inglehart 1999), profound economic changes caused by the information revolution and globalization (Giddens 1990), “symbolic” changes in the political process that increased the distance between the political activists and the public (Lipset and Schneider 1983), and a more consistently negative approach by the press to government and other institutions (Nye Jr. 1997). On the other hand, the happiness levels in both unions proved to be rather stable, with a slow decreasing trend in US and mixed trends in EU countries (Veenhoven, 1999). Yet, at the individual level, trust in governmental institutions and happiness seem to be were slightly but significantly correlated. This association was only contextually approached and explanations given are rather conflicting: Lipset & Schneider (1983), for example, consider decline in confidence as a signal of “deep and serious discontent”, while Brehm & Rahn (1997) conclude that “Americans transfer their unhappiness about their own lives onto confidence about federal institutions”. This paper tries to explore the rather complicated relationship between those two important social trends, from a comparative perspective. A subset of European and North American countries was extracted from the four waves of World Values Surveys and European Values Surveys 1981-1984, 1990-1993, 1995-1997, and 1999-2001 (Inglehart, 2000, 2004). Following Listhaug & Wiberg (1995), I constructed an index of confidence in government institutions composed of four items to allow comparisons. Using these instruments, a general trend of cross-sectional variation of confidence in government institutions could be established, with sharp decline in the eighties and mixed patterns in the nineties. Happiness declined the entire time interval in US, but only in few European countries followed the same pattern. At aggregate level, significant correlation between those variables was observed in all waves. Countries with greater confidence levels also have greater happiness levels, and the correlation at cross-national level tend to increase with time. Moreover, at individual level, a significant correlation of around 0.15 between these variables was found in practically all countries across all waves. These results seem to demonstrate that, despite ups and downs in mean country levels of confidence in government and happiness, the structure of the relationship between these two variables across EU and US seems to converge.

Bălţătescu, S. (2005). Justice beliefs in post-communist countries and subjective well-being. A European comparative study., Social Justice in a Changing World, Bremen.

Baltatescu - Justice beliefs in post-communist countries and subj

Differences and similarities between political cultures of Western and Eastern Post-Communist European states attract a growing research interest (Kluegel, Mason, & Wegener, 1995; Wegener, 2000). Social justice researchers were especially preoccupied by the levels, determinants and outcomes of perceived justice/injustice (Arts, Hermkens, & Wijck, 1995; Jasso, 2000; Orkeny & Szekelyi, 2000) and of the attributions of causes of poverty (Kreidl, 2000). Data and models drawn from International Social Justice Project permit to infer that “justice evaluations are a salient determinant of the subjective well-being of individuals” (Wegener & Steinmann, 1995), but only individuals' satisfaction with their material well-being was tested, that represents only a particular domain of global subjective well-being. Alternatively, in subjective well-being research tradition there is a increasing recognition that justice feelings are part of the individual’s quality of life (Lane, 2000). Perceived injustice/growing inequalities were found to diminish happiness in both micro- (Montada, 1998), and macrojustice researches (Alesina, Tella, & MacCulloch, 2001). However, no precise analyses on the relationship between justice beliefs and subjective well-being are available. This paper tries to fill this gap. Using data from European Values Survey (the 1999 wave), attitudes towards equalitarianism and poverty attributions by structural factors were found to be correlated with life satisfaction. In some of the countries – for example Romania – empirical correlations are still significant even when controlling for social status variables like income levels. Results were analysed with reference to most influential theories in the social justice research and particular attention is given to comparison between Eastern-Western societies.

Bălţătescu, S. (2004). Individual Level Determinants of the Support for EU Integration in Romania: the Influence of Personal Well Being, Perceptions of Good Governance and Media Exposure, Conferinta internaţională "Mass Media si Buna Guvernare in fata provocarii extinderii Uniunii Europene" Oradea.

Bălţătescu, S. (2003). Media, climat d'oppinion et la perception de la qualite de la vie, Premiere conference internationale francophone en sciences de l'information et de la communication (CIFSIC) Universite de Bucharest.

Bălţătescu, S. (2003). Stability of Happiness in a Changing Society: A Latent Growth Analysis on a Romanian Panel Data, Fifth ISQOLS Conference Frankfurt, Germany.

 One of the most challenging issues in quality of life research is the assessment of stability and identification of sources of changes in subjective well-being over time. The paper explores intra and inter-individual variations in Life satisfaction in post-communist Romania, based on a three-wave panel on living conditions and quality of life with 700 subjects, between 1996 and 1998. This was a period of important transformations and also a steep decreasing in average level of living. A lower level of year-to-year correlation in life satisfaction than in Western countries was found (Pearson's r is about 0.35). This seems to confirm the hypothesis that a rapid changing society shows greatear instability in subjective well-being, but the influence of levels and errors of measurement on correlations is also discussed. A recent SEM-based approach, latent growth curve analysis (LGC), was used for for the analysis of data. Unlike the methods previously used in QOL longitudinal research, LGC allows the researcher to partition the variance of the studied variable in a stable component (the intercept) and a changing one (the slope). marital and socio-economic status (especially income) were found to have effects on the intercept levels of satisfaction. LGC is a powerful and flexible tool for studying also the influence of changes in income, socio-economic and marital status and intra-individual trajectories of life satisfaction over time.

Băltăţescu, D., & Bălţătescu, s. (2003). Influenţe sociale asupra participării în cluburi sportive în adolescenţă. Rezultate dintr-o anchetă asupra elevilor de liceu din mediul urban., Congresul Internaţional "Sănătate prin mişcare pentru generaţia viitoare" Oradea.

Bălţătescu, S. (2002). Problems of transforming scales of life satisfaction, Euromodule Workshop Wissensfchaft Zentrum Berlin.

Bălţătescu, S. (2001). Quality of life in Romania, Comunicare la Euromodule Workshop Wissensfchaft Zentrum Berlin.

In a typology of social reporting systems elaborated by Rothenbacher (1999), Romania can be included (along with Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands and Austria) in the "American" Quality of Life researches tradition, which - following the same author - has as main traits: a combination between objective and subjective indicators, thus emphasizes both dimensions; subjective quality of life is assessed not only by using also a summary measure as the overall life satisfaction, satisfaction indicators regarding specific living domains, as the income, family or health; by combining the subjective and objective dimension, a theoretical understanding of the dynamics of well-being is enhanced. The first quality of life researches in Romania, started early, at the end of the seventies, in a very difficult time for sociologists. But only in the nineties systematic surveys on quality of life and living conditions were conducted. The research program "Diagnosis of Quality of Life", introduced by the Romanian Institute for Quality of Life Research and the Public Opinion Barometer (financed by Open Society Foundation Romania), provided the researchers with a high amount of empirical data on life satisfaction, indicator that shows the subject's evaluation of his or her life. Integrating the results of these empirical researches, we tried to assess the evolution of life satisfaction in the last twelve years. The both data series of life satisfaction indicators in the survey programs show great compatibility, proving that the measurements of life satisfaction are highly reliable. Finally, some models international comparisons are made.

Bălţătescu, S. (2001). Mass-media, climatul de opinie şi satisfacţia vieţii în România postdecembristă., Conferinţa internaţională "Rolul mass-media şi al noilor tehnologii de comunicare şi informare în procesul de democratizare a societăţilor din Europa Centrală şi de Est" Oradea.

Researches about the relation between media exposure and psychological well-being were conducted in two different Study areas. In media sociology, mass-media is considered a mediator between the fulfillment of needs and life satisfaction. Drawing from the escapism function of media, Edgar Morin (1962) inferred that the purpose of mass culture was to create an (illusory) happiness of individuals. On the other side, the quality of life researchers took into account psychological variables like materialism (Sirgy, Lee & al., 1998). 

The present paper’s purpose is to analyze the relationship between media and subjective well-being from a sociological perspective. Building upon the paradigms of climate of opinion  (Noelle-Neumann, 1987) and public mood (Rahn, Kreoger & Kite, 1996), I tried to highlight different aspects of the relationship between media and subjective well-being. 

Bălţătescu, S., & Băltăţescu, D. (1998). Chestiunea zilei: une satyre televisée, Colloque Franco-Roumain de média Bucureşti.


« Chestiunea Zilei », a political satire, has been an inovative presence in the new Romanian media. The project, initiated by a well-known TV star, Florin Călinescu, had the purpose to give an ironic replica to the most referred events in Romanian journals. An analysis of the series broadcast in 1997 shows that a large part of the programme is dedicated to the relationship between public institutions and citizens. This research focuses on discourse of the mechanisms of the power in the post-communist Romania. The series is clearly contradicting the official version of that time, showing how Government and public institutions, instead of being in the service of the peoples, are rather maltreating them. But the comic part is linked with the reaction of the "victims" of the systems, who behave in disorder, showing no clear reaction: a passive resistance, very close to subversion, remembering the pattern of the "bad old days" of communist oppression. Here lies the mythical part of this satire: showing no clear pattern of reaction to the injustices, the program promotes the passive reproduction of repressive practices. Finally, we are pointing to the dilemma of any critical discourse analysis of the media products, arguing that in media there is neither pure subversion, nor pure submission.

Sergiu Baltatescu,
2 apr. 2010, 05:25
Sergiu Baltatescu,
2 apr. 2010, 05:26